At first glance, Genesis 18 seems like a simple narrative of a meeting between God and his servant, Abraham. However, this passage holds much more importance, and is incredibly relevant, to 21st century Christians.
Genesis 18 tells the story of how three men appear near Abraham’s home; one of these men being God himself: “the Lord appeared to him by the oaks of Mamre.” God is on his way to Sodom to judge the evil taking place in the city at the time. When Abraham sees these men, he runs to them and falls flat on his face in adoration, for he knows that he is in the presence of the living God. Abraham then offers the three men food and drink before they continue on their travels. They eat, drink, and rest together. When the meal is over, Abraham does not simply let the Lord move on to his work in Sodom. Rather, he gets up, “draws near”, and walks with him for part of the way. He had questions for God, things that were burdening him and burning in his heart. Abraham desired to walk with the Lord and he desired for more of Him. Eventually, Abraham’s conversation with God finishes in verse 33 of the text. God leaves, and Abraham returns home, like the encounter was the most normal and natural thing in the world.
The story of Genesis 18 is an unassumingly beautiful one. And when I read through the scripture, three important details jump out for me.
God chose to visit Abraham that day. He knew the desires of his servant, Abraham, he loved him, and he chose to take the time to visit him even though he was on his way to do important work.
Abraham wanted to be with God. When Abraham realized that the Lord was at his home, the first thing he wanted to do was serve him. Even when he had finished serving him, he still wanted to be with God. Abraham desired to linger in the Lord’s presence.
God was in no rush. He was not there to judge, rebuke, or even to instruct Abraham. God wanted to be with Abraham, and to allow Abraham to linger in his presence.
I had never thought of this passage as anything more that an Old Testament story about God and one of his children. Nothing particular ever jumped out at me. However, this passage was recently brought to my attention again and God began revealing truths to me.
When I lead worship, or even when I sit at home in private worship, I am constantly thinking about what I want to ask God, the problems in my life, my short comings, the people around me that are suffering, and I am constantly trying to know things about the Lord. But here, we read about the beauty of just lingering in his presence. Abraham had questions and stresses, but what he wanted most was to just be with God. And God was there for him.
As Christians, we have this incredible opportunity to linger with God, and as worshippers, we have this inherent, sometimes unrecognized, need to linger with him. When we enter into a time of worship, I hope we remember that we are not there to “get” things from God. We can come to him with any of the desires or questions on our hearts. But the beautiful fact of worshipping a living God is that we have this ability to linger with him, to “draw near to him”, to simply be with him in his presence. There is beauty in just being with our creator God.